My Mom’s Recipe for Red Beans

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My parents were married in New Orleans in 1941. My mom learned to cook there. This is her recipe for red beans.

1 (16-ounce) package dried red kidney beans
1 pound spicy smoked sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1 quart chicken broth
1 quart water
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more, to taste
1/2 teaspoon thyme, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Pick over beans. Rinse. Place in at least two quarts of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let beans sit overnight. The next day, rinse the beans three times.

Cut smoked sausage into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Sauté sausage in hot oil in Dutch oven over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes or until sausage is golden brown. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Add celery and next 3 ingredients to hot drippings, and sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add tomato paste and simmer, stirring occasionally, 7 minutes.

Stir in beans, broth, and remaining ingredients; increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally,  until tender and creamy. It usually takes a couple of hours to get them to the texture that I like. Add more broth or water as needed to keep beans covered with liquid. Stir in sausage, and simmer 30 more minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve over hot cooked rice. Garnish with chopped green onions if desired. These are better if you serve them the day after you cook them next day.

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Corn Bread with Blue Corn, Toasted Piñons, and Green Chile

Blue Cornbread

* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 more tablespoon butter for baking dish
* 1 cup blue cornmeal
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
* 1/2 cup piñon nuts, toasted in a skillet
* 1/4 cup chopped New Mexico green chile

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425º F. Heavily grease an 8-inch cast iron skillet or other heavy 8-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk and butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and fold together until there are no dry spots (the batter will still be lumpy). Add toasted piñons and chopped green chile. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet or baking dish.

Bake until the top is golden brown and tester inserted into the middle of the corn bread comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the cornbread from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Fresh Strawberry Pie

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Ingredients:

Filling:
4 pints (about 3 pounds) fresh strawberries, gently rinsed and dried, hulled
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes
Generous pinch table salt
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1 recipe Baked Pie Shell (see recipe for Vodka Pie Crust)

Whipped Cream:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon orange liqueur

Instructions:

1. FOR THE FILLING: Select 6 ounces misshapen, underripe, or otherwise unattractive berries, halving those that are large; you should have about 1½ cups. In food processor, process berries to smooth puree, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. You should have about ¾ cup puree.

2. Whisk sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell, and salt in medium saucepan. Stir in berry puree, making sure to scrape corners of pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with heatproof rubber spatula, and bring to full boil. Boil, scraping bottom and sides of pan to prevent scorching, for 2 minutes to ensure that cornstarch is fully cooked (mixture will appear frothy when it first reaches boil, then will darken and thicken with further cooking). Transfer to large bowl and stir in lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, pick over remaining berries and measure out 2 pounds of most attractive ones; halve only extra-large berries. Add berries to bowl with glaze and fold gently with rubber spatula until berries are evenly coated. Scoop berries into pie shell, piling into mound. If any cut sides face up on top, turn them face down. If necessary, rearrange berries so that holes are filled and mound looks attractive. Refrigerate pie until chilled, about 2 hours. Serve within 5 hours of chilling.

4. FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM: Just before serving, beat cream and sugar with electric mixer on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave trail, about 30 additional seconds. Add orange liqueur. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume and forms soft peaks, 30 to 60 seconds.

5. Cut pie into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.

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Guinness Cake

Guinness Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup Guinness or other stout beer
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the meringue:

2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Put the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water). Stir until the chocolate melts, then remove the bowl from the pan.

Put the eggs, turbinado sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over the same pan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is warm, about 2 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer; beat with the whisk attachment on medium speed until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the beer and vanilla to a low boil in a saucepan. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the beer mixture, then the melted chocolate, until combined, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the butter until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs, about 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack 1 hour, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the ring. Let cool completely.

Make the meringue: Microwave the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring, until the chocolate melts.

Whisk the granulated sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and 1/3 cup water in a heat proof bowl. Put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; beat with a handheld mixer on low speed, then gradually increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the pan; continue beating until the meringue is cool and fluffy. Fold in the vanilla, then fold in the melted chocolate until swirled. Spread the meringue on the cake.

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Balsamic Onion Marmalade

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I use grapeseed or sunflower oil)
4 large onions, thinly sliced pole-to-pole (about 8 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it slides easily across pan. Add onions, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until onions are soft.

2. Add sugar and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until onions appear dry.

3. Add vinegar and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until onions are soft and dry. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store marmalade in refrigerator. It will keep for several weeks. Makes about 2 cups.

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Home-made Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

* 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
* 1/4 tsp sea salt
* 2 eggs
* 2 cups neutral tasting oil (I use grape seed oil; sunflower oil works well too. You can use olive oil, but the mayonnaise will have a strong flavor, which I do not mind.)
* 2 T. lemon juice or white wine vinegar

Preparation:

Put all ingredients except for the oil in a food processor and keep it running. Pour the oil into the feed tube insert if you have the kind with a tiny hole in the bottom, otherwise take a paper or foam cup, put a small hole in the bottom and put it into the feed tube. Fill the tube or cup with oil and allow it to stream slowly into the food processor. Continue to fill the tube or cup again until all the oil has been used.

For my mayonnaise I added 4 cloves of soft, roasted garlic and 3 chipotle peppers in adobo. You can add other flavorings as desired.

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Classic Sandwich Bread

2 to 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup milk (skim, 1%, 2% or whole, your choice)
1/2 to 2/3 cup hot water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted butter plus more for brushing surface
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water OR 2 teaspoons instant yeast

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Add enough of the white flour to make a dough that cleans the side of the bowl. Dough will be soft. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer with a dough hook. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 60 minutes, until it’s domed about 1″ above the edge of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s light golden brown. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or by measuring its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf). Remove the bread from the oven, brush the top of the warm loaf with butter and cool it on a wire rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature. Yield: 1 loaf.

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